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Backcountry Advisory

As of Wednesday, Feb. 2

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The current avalanche danger in the terrain adjacent to the Whistler-Blackcomb ski areas is rated as CONSIDERABLE in the alpine and at treeline and MODERATE below treeline.

The most recent storm cycle brought 10-15 cm of welcome snow to the area. Strong winds from the south and southeast accompanied the snowfall, resulting in variable loading throughout the alpine terrain. Ridge tops were left scoured and most of the snow ended up well down in the start zones, loaded around terrain features. The resulting windslab was moving easily on a layer of less wind affected snow, but became less reactive as the slab density decreased at lower elevations. Continuing strong south and southwest winds on Feb. 1 formed some size 1 slabs on northeast aspects. These slabs were reactive to ski testing.

The January rain crust can be found under the storm snow and its strength varies according to its depth in the snowpack. Below the crust the moist snow predominates and in most treeline and below treeline locations, it goes to the ground. The middle of the week is expected to bring periods of light precipitation and a brief spike in the freezing levels. The windslabs may become more reactive as they receive more of a load and temperatures warm. Hopefully most of the precipitation in the alpine will come as snow and continue to cover in some of the early season hazards that are still lurking. Temperatures are forecasted to begin cooling again on Thursday night and we could see some breaks in the cloud cover by Saturday with freezing levels finally back down to the valley floor.

As always, conditions may change and do vary, so try to keep updated with the most current information. Call 604-938-7676 for the Whistler-Blackcomb bulletins or contact the CAA website at avalanche.ca for information from around the province.

From the Duffey courtesy of MOT:

Pathetically shallow snowpack and bare patches on approach routes characterize the Cayoosh and Lillooet Ranges as of February ’05. Storm snow bond to crust is improving above the rain line (1,300-1,500 metres). The last 24 hours has been characterized by more wind than snowfall, initially starting from the south then switching southwest and staying there the past 18 hours. There is a maximum of 20 cm of storm snow, with the bond at its interface with the underlying crust expected to gradually improve while the skin of wind crust forms on the surface. Small surface hoar (1 mm) on the Jan. 26 crust was producing easy shears during Monday’s light snowfall and should be moderate now. Loading was slow so little natural activity has been triggered. Temperatures have favoured rounding and strengthening except on clear nights when near surface steep temperature gradient was present. Travel conditions are still challenging below treeline due to lack of snow, with the snow quickly petering out and disappearing below 1,100 metres.

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